The New York Times reported
that Jackson Pollock's "Number 5, 1948" sold at possibly the highest price ever paid for a painting. When looking up commentary on the piece, I ran across an essay by Christopher Dylan Bailey
on what he calls flat form
that articulated many thoughts I've had about my own artwork
. He uses "Number 5, 1948" as an example:
There is no depth here, not much "stands out" or is "more important" than anything else, there is no "climactic point," or "center pole" or such on the surface. Nothing is important, because everything is important. On the one hand, one can see this as a complete lack of richness---just overall greyness. On the other hand, one could see this as remarkably rich: the picture is filled with tiny "sub-pictures", micro-pictures, anywhere you look. Zoom in on a 2" square anywhere on the painting, and you are rewarded with an interesting little structure, a powerful color combination, or a set of expressive gestures colliding in some interesting way.
A large goal I've always had with my artwork has always been to draw viewers in to look at the detail within each piece. I once took this to the literal extreme by creating a grid on a painting
. I can spend hours looking at my own artwork examining and appreciating "sub-pictures" I've never noticed.
Mr. Bailey continues discussing paintings like Pollock's:
They are, in a sense, irreducible. If one is unable to zoom in on the detail, there's no point in looking at them. In a way, the artist has forced us to look at the detail, or not to look at all.